Perhaps the single largest topic for discussion in the automotive industry is automation. Whether we are to believe Elon Musk’s promises of self-driving Teslas within the year*, there is no doubt that fully autonomous vehicles will be a feature of future roadways.
DriveTech, world leader in fleet risk and safety management, has released the latest in its series of Whitepapers focusing on the range of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (or, more popularly, ADAS) and how increasing automation is providing benefits, but also new challenges for drivers and driver training.
Newer vehicles feature a wealth of systems aimed at both improving driver experience and creating safer roads. ADAS innovations such as Driver Drowsiness Detection, Blind Spot Monitors, Collision Avoidance Systems, and even more familiar technology like Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) or Dashcams have been designed to reduce road risk. These systems are designed and implemented with the best intentions – to assist drivers in making better choices, to reduce the repetitive nature of some driving tasks, and to create safer roads. They are now so commonplace that in a recent survey of US drivers, 33% of motorists feel that semi-autonomous driving technology would make them safer drivers**.
However, as with every technological advancement, human behaviour is an essential factor. Overreliance on ADAS can create complacency and, somewhat counterintuitively, increase risk. Studies have begun to focus on these risks, with figures showing that drivers who are over reliant on ADAS are two times more likely to engage in ‘distracted driving’ as those who are less likely to use these systems***.
“While overreliance on ADAS is an increasing potential problem for private motorists, one big issue to be considered is the impact on fleet driving. With some drivers’ shift patterns resulting in them spending up to 10 hours a day on the road, ADAS systems that reduce repetitive driving tasks and assist in recognising when drivers are distracted or drowsy are a welcome means of support. With the ever increasing race of technical developments moving us towards the era of the autonomous vehicle in the future, the presence of ADAS systems in fleet driving is only set to increase”, says Colin Paterson, Head of Marketing at DriveTech. “Ultimately, however, the driver is still in control at present.”
It is vital that drivers receive comprehensive instruction on the use and risks of ADAS systems, and training curriculums must evolve in step with their usage. ‘Our relationship with vehicles and how we drive for work is changing,’ summarises Dr. Lisa Dorn of Cranfield University. ‘New technology in vehicles is being introduced with little understanding about its effect on driving at work. As automation increases, drivers will have less opportunity to develop their driving skills. Studies show that some elements of driving performance are negatively affected when using ADAS due to the way drivers adapt to the assistance offered.’
Dr. Dorn believes that the challenges of drivers’ behavioural adaptation ‘represents an opportunity for driver training to step up and deliver new structure and content.’ Training agencies that provide fleet driver instruction, such as DriveTech, need to understand the links between driver behaviour, implementation of ADAS systems and the importance of maintaining driving skills. ‘Driver training needs to address the requirements of driving in today’s vehicles, so that drivers are prepared for full automation,’ says Dr. Dorn. ‘How to avoid unwanted behavioural responses must be part of the fleet driver training curriculum if ADAS is to realise its potential to improve road safety’.
For more on DriveTech’s range of courses, and to read the white paper in full, visit https://www.drivetech.co.uk/news-and-resources/adas-attraction-or-distraction